‘It’s not a banger’: response to Space Force official song is less than stellar

The new song, Semper Supra, is set to a jaunty tune, but critics say its lyrics are ‘verbal word salad’

Space Force, the sixth and newest branch of the US military, unveiled its official song on Tuesday amid a less than stellar critical response.

As one website dedicated to covering America’s armed forces put it: “It’s not a banger.”

Space Force was created in 2019, calved from the US air force at the behest of the Donald Trump White House.

Critics wondered if the new force was needed. Announcements including the badge and uniform (suspiciously like badges and uniforms in Star Trek) and the name for service members (Guardians) attracted controversy, mockery and a satirical Netflix series starring Steve Carell.

But Trump seemed proud, for instance telling writers Peter Baker and Susan Glasser – who authored a new book on his presidency – that founding Space Force was among his greatest achievements in office.

The US military has a tradition of official songs, from The Marine’s Hymn (adopted in 1929, beginning “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli / We fight our country’s battles / In the air, on land and sea”) to The Army Goes Rolling Along, from 1956.

The moment you've all been waiting for: The Space Force has unveiled its official song pic.twitter.com/v6CG3I4sYD

— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) September 20, 2022

The new song, Semper Supra – taken from the Space Force motto: Always above – was unveiled by Gen John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations, at a conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

Military.com, the site which said the new tune was “not a banger”, reported that Space Force used a 1901 march by John Philip Sousa, The Invincible Eagle, as a stopgap while the new song was written.

Semper Supra is set to a jaunty tune reminiscent of The Liberty Bell, another Sousa march, from 1893 but now widely known as the theme to the British comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

The chief musician of the US Coast Guard Band, Sean Nelson, worked on the music for the Space Force song. The lyrics were penned by Jamie Teachenor, a country music songwriter and member of the US Air Force Band.

Nelson said: “I went for it and I did what I thought was going to be the most exciting kind of sounds.”

Teachenor added: “I wanted to make sure that everything that was in the song would adequately represent all the capabilities that our Space Force is involved with and make sure I didn’t mess up on the mission.”

Teachenor’s lyrics are as follows: “We’re the mighty watchful eye / Guardians beyond the blue / The invisible front line / Warfighters brave and true.

“Boldly reaching into space / there’s no limit to our sky / Standing guard both night and day / We’re the Space Force from on high.”

Critical response was at best mixed. The executive editor of Defense One, a military news site, Kevin Baron, wrote: “The tune is a fine march. The lyrics are awful.

“Grammatically, I’m dying to edit: You’re not the ‘invisible’ front line. CIA is. We literally see you singing this song. ‘Warfighter’ is NOT A WORD. ‘Both’ is redundant. Strike it.

“‘Boldly’ steals from Star Trek (again). And how is one boldly ‘reaching into space’ without going there? There is a ‘limit to our sky’. It’s called space. Sky ends. Space begins. These lyrics are the verbal word salad version of a bad air force painting.”


Martin Pengelly in New York

The GuardianTramp

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